Successful businessman and former mayor of Javier, Leyte Leonardo “Sandy” Javier Jr., has been tapped as the chairman of the 26th edition of the country’s premier, intemational trade exhibition on agriculture, food and aquaculture.

Javier, whom many fondly considers the “father of lechon manok,” will lead the event, which will be supported by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its regional units and allied agencies such as the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Agricultural Marketing and Assistance Services and Agricultural Training Institute. His entrepreneurial expertise and particular advocacy for agriculture, will help Agrilink in providing stakeholders, consumers and farmers a better understanding of how diverse yet climate change resilient supply and value chains help address increasingly changing consumer demands while keeping our agricultural industry globally competitive.

Javier noted how diversification and value-adding could help farmers, especially those in the coconut sector, transition from subsistence farming to profitable agribusiness, as exemplified not only by his main business, the popular Andok’s but also through the Javier municipality in Leyte where he served three terms as mayor.

He has so far seven hectares of cacao model farm that also serves as a site for farmers who are then trained and given cacao seedlings from Davao for them to plant. His  coconut farms are also intercropped with other crops such as bananas (lakatan), dragon fruit, native chili (labuyo), tomato, watermelon and ginger.The municipality also has ventures in vermiculture and carabao dairying.

In fact, tufting machines will soon be commissioned for a coconut coir processing plant. Coconut husks sourced from the farmers are processed into fiber, which can then be used to produce mats and carpets that will then be sold locally and abroad.

These projects, Javier said, aims to lessen the farmers’ dependence on copra for their livelihood as well as commercialize the municipality’s agricultural sector by diversifying their products.

Javier said adding more value to their staple products would help spur the farmers’ business acumen by transforming them into entrepreneurs, and ultimately making the municipality a pioneer in agribusiness.

In a farm visit to Royal Maverick Ranch (RMR) in Rosario, Batangas,which he also oversees, Javier demonstrated a variety of high-value crops such as jackfruit, bell peppers and dragon fruit, many of which are either nurtured in greenhouses or intercropped with coconut trees.

There was also a demo farm planted with a variety of dwarf corn that form ears or cobs as early as three weeks.The variety’s lowered height can help mitigate losses, as it can better withstand strong winds that often accompany typhoons. RMR,while a thorough bred horse breeding farm, also has poultry (broiler and duck), ruminant, and native pig farms.

Javier said a holistic approach to value-adding and crop diversification could help the agricultural industry, especially Easterm Visayas’ coconut sector, become more dynamic and adaptable to the ever-changing market demands while also improving the farmers’ livelihood. “I am happy to be a part of Agrilink and its advocacy of helping farmers and fisherfolks create their own profitable agribusinesses. I am also glad to be a part of an event, which, for more than two decades, has been serving as a venue for government agencies, local and international stakeholders, farmers, fisherfolk, entrepreneurs and consumers to create and strengthen linkages that will help sustain our agricultural industry,” Javier said.

Published in The Philippine Star